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Stealing Beauty

Top beauty editors spend their days searching out the perfect scrub, but what do they buy on their own dime? Only Duane Reade knew for sure -- until now.

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So this season's fashion spreads have you hankering for glossy lips and bare, flushed cheeks, but a pricey spring makeover isn't in your budget. We asked five women who've made careers trying and testing everything from Cover Girl to Chanel to reveal which low-cost product or service they can't live without, and while one demurred ("I'm not a deal sort of girl"), most couldn't resist divulging the recession-proof beauty bargains that are staples in their bathrooms.

Allure editor-in-chief Linda Wells discovered Cetaphil cleanser ($6.99) when she was an assistant at Vogue twenty years ago, and she still swears by it. "Every dermatologist loves it," she says. She also picks up Oil of Olay Daily Facials cleansing cloths ($7.99) along with her groceries at Shop Rite; they'll remove makeup, and exfoliate to boot.

To create a natural glow, InStyle's beauty director, Kim-Van Dang, uses a new product called Pearls of Perfection Bronzer ($12.95), colored beads in a clear gel that provides super-sheer cover. Dang makes Poppy Shine lip gloss in maraschino do triple duty, using it on eyelids and cheeks ($14.50 at Sephora). "I get ready in a cab on the way to the office, and this is a whole face in a pot." For everyday wear and tear, Dang swears by Revlon's nail polishes ($4.29). "The colors are true to what's in the bottle, and they last for ages." Our experts agree you don't have to lavish a fortune on your lashes: Dang's are short, straight, and transformed by Maybelline's Wonder Curl mascara ($5.49).

Bourjois Pastel Lumiere eye shadows ($13 at Sephora) add sparkle to Christine Shea's makeup collection. The Harper's Bazaar beauty director told us, "They're a fun little indulgence, and they have the best shades for spring."

Shaving wins over waxing: It's cheaper and less painful. Marie Claire's Didi Gluck raved about Skintimate shaving gel ($2.89). "It's so smooth you don't need moisturizer," she told us; Linda Wells likes Olay Moisturizing Body Wash ($4.99) for the same reason: "You put it on with a rather unattractive pouffy scrubber, but it exfoliates too."

And if you need professional pampering? Wells rattles off a list of standbys, starting with her neighborhood nail salon, Iris Nail, where she gets manicures for $11; Jean-Claude Biguine's $30 blowouts ("Let's face it, you don't want to spend a fortune on a blowout, and their quality is good"); and the Stressless Step's effective, no-frills massages ($50).

For the full treatment, Shea confides that the Wall Street baths are "perfect if you want to sit around in the sauna with your friends. It's utilitarian, and I'd bring my own flip-flops. But it's $26 for a day pass." You can also be whipped with eucalyptus branches by a Russian masseuse. "But," she hastens to add, "that's not really my kind of thing."

Unless otherwise specified, prices are from Duane Reade, 22 W. 48th St. (212-730-4914); Sephora, 636 Fifth Avenue, at 51st St. (212-245-1633); Iris Nail, 1306 Madison Ave., near 92nd St. (212-987-7702); Jean-Claude Biguine Salon, 450 Park Ave. So., near 30th St. (212-696-9222); the Stressless Step, 115 E. 57th St., fifth floor (212-826-6222); Wall Street Bath and Spa, 88 Fulton St. (212-766-8600).

Picks of the Week
Hoyt & Bond's sample sale means up to 70 percent off women's and children's clothes from all seasons. Skirt, 119 Mercer St., No. 2S (718-596-5089); M.C., V.; Wed.-Thurs. 9-6; 2/14-2/15.

At the Gown Company's sample sale, designer evening wear and bridal gowns (including Richard Tyler and Carolina Herrera) will be marked down 50 to 75 percent. Lombardy Hotel, 109 E. 56th St. (212-979-9000); M.C., V.; Thurs.-Fri. 10-7, Sat. 10-4; 2/15-2/17.

At the T. Walko sample sale, embroidered men's shirts will be reduced to $50, and signature knit T-shirts and sweaters to $20 to $50. 315 W. 39th St., suite 909 (212-465-8256); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs.-Fri. 11-7, Sat. till 5; 2/15-2/17.


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